Questions 3 and 4:
3. What do you find is most cats’ tolerance limit on time?
4. If a cat gets really upset do you put them up and try later or is it a one shot deal and it only gets worse?
Cats definitely have a tolerance limit. Working within that time frame is best for both groomer and cat. Most grooms can and should be finished within 1 hour when working straight through. That means a mobile groomer, working on a single cat, should have the groom finished and kitty delivered back to the owner within a 1-hour time frame. Many cats can be completed in approximately 45 minutes.
For years I groomed cats solo, and then with employees working beside me. Either way, owners were given a 2-hour turn-around pick up time. This allowed for interruptions from clients/phone calls and overlapping appointments as well as additional time for cats to be initially dried in a cage dryer. Even so, the actual hands-on groom time for each cat was about 40-60 minutes. While some of the cats I handled on a daily basis were less-than-agreeable about their time at the “spa,” each and every one went home completely groomed and looking and feeling mighty fine.
Years ago, when I started doing personalized training with other groomers from around the world who came to learn cat grooming (before the National Cat Groomers School existed), I learned a valuable lesson about a cat’s time limits. Sometimes students, being new to grooming, would end up taking 2 and 3 times longer than normal to complete a groom. The result was an ordinarily compliant and easy cat becoming aggressive or stressed due to the increased hands-on groom time. I saw this happen time and time again, which showed me very clearly that cats do have a time limit. Our job, as professional cat groomers, is to make sure we do not stretch them past that limit.
So how is this done? Well, there are a number of things that must be understood in order for this to happen.
- Understand feline temperaments and how to recognize what type of cat is being worked with.
- Know how to confidently and safely handle cats in a way that makes the groom possible in the shortest amount of time.
- Know what grooming elements can/cannot or should/should not be done on certain cats, based on age, health, coat type, breed, condition, and temperament. There is no hard, fast method that works on every cat, every time. Making an educated decision about how to go about a groom on a specific cat is fundamental to success,
- Know what order to perform each element based on a variety of factors, but mainly based on a cat’s temperament and personality.
Struggling with a cat is not good for the cat or the groomer. The end result could be devastating and even end with the death of a cat. Performing inappropriate grooming elements on a cat can also be disastrous. And spending too much time handling a cat will almost always have a negative result.
Chapters 3 and 4 of my book, The Ultimate Cat Groomer Encyclopedia, cover, in great detail, various cat temperaments and handling techniques (with photos). Chapter 5 goes on to explain (and demonstrate with photos) the different grooming elements that can be done on cats. This same chapter also includes a section that explains in what order to perform the groom, as well as how long it should take to complete each step of the process. (see pages 87-88)
Yes, this is my shameless promotion of my own book. But, folks, there is a reason I wrote this book. And there is a reason it contains the information that it contains. If you are grooming cats or want to groom cats or are being forced to groom cats, get the Encyclopedia!
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it again and again and again – probably until the day I die: if you are going to groom a cat, make sure you know EVERYTHING there is to know about these creatures and how to handle them safely and effectively! They deserve it! Our industry deserves it (and ought to require it!!). The book and the DVDs are a good place to start. And now there is a real school where further, in-depth training that takes place each month. Take advantage of this – improve your ability to groom felines so that time no longer is an issue. Whether or not a cat’s groom is completed is never a question. Instead, confidence, efficiency, and excellent grooming rule! Don’t settle for anything less.
To answer Q4………putting a cat away for a while with the hope it will settle down will rarely work. In fact, most of the time, it will only make matters worse. The cat doesn’t want to be away from home. It is reacting out of either fear or anger, none of which will be lessened by the cat remaining in a place that is making it fearful or mad. But does this mean the cat can’t be groomed or shouldn’t be groomed? Probably not. Most likely not. Knowing the information listed above can make all the difference in the world and provide the skills to finesse a cat into the place it needs to be to receive the grooming attention it so desperately requires.
I say this with confidence because I KNOW it’s true. I’ve been living it for over 13 years, with over 32,000 cat grooms thus far. And now others are living it, too! Proof’s in the pudding :)
(Again, thanks to Cattledawg from the PetGroomer forums for asking such great questions!)